Several years ago, I bought a round pizza stone at Costco. I’ve used it again and again for more than just making pizza. As a matter of fact, I’ve never liked the way pizza turns out in the oven when cooked on a stone. The crust is never crisp enough so lately I’ve put the dough on parchment paper directly on the grill of the oven. That seems to cook the underside a little better. So the stone has been relegated to a secondary function. When I bake bread I put it on the bottom rack of the oven, and another clay pan on the top rack, which I fill with water. I spray the oven walls with water, turn the heat up to 425˚ and put my baguette loaves in the middle. This is as close as I can get to having a clay oven, I think. In any case, the bread comes out airy and light on the inside and very crisp in the crust—just the way I like it.
But what if, I thought, I used my wonderfully well-seasoned round clay stone for baking a pizza on the outdoor grill? As always, when I choose to have an experiment in the kitchen, I try it out first with Joe. In this case, I couldn’t go wrong, I thought, since he loves pizza no matter what form it takes.
As it happened, I had a ball of dough in the freezer so I wouldn’t even have to make a fresh batch for my experiment. I put the frozen dough on a floured cutting board to let it thaw. I sautéed a little onion to caramelize and sautéed a bit of sausage, peppers and a few sliced dried figs. I had been drying some oregano from the garden and it was now about right for my purpose.
Caramelized onions, sausage, pepper and fig, drying oregano
Next, I rolled out the thawed dough directly on the clay stone and drizzled a little garlic/herb infused olive oil on it and spread it around with my fingers. I let the dough rest while the grill heated up to 450˚.
Pizza dough resting and waiting
After spreading the topping on, I sprinkled the caramelized onions and the crushed oregano onto the topping. Then, a few slices of mozzarella and a bit of shaved asiago and I was ready for my experiment to continue. I placed the cool stone with the pizza on it directly on the grill. I was afraid, at this point, that the stone would crack from the difference in temperature. But it held. I thought 10 minutes would finish the pizza, but I would check it after 5 minutes and make a salad in the meantime. At 5 minutes it wasn’t quite done, but it was close.
Pizza on the grill, at five minutes
Now I know that 6 or 7 minutes would have been ideal because at 10 minutes, the pizza was really too crisp.
Finished pizza, a little too crisp
Joe loved it, but I know I need to perfect the timing on this. And next time, I’ll dust the stone with cornmeal to keep the dough from sticking. Nice to know that I can make pizza on the grill now!
Pizza on the Grill
1 ball of pizza dough (directions follow, or purchase from deli case at Trader Joe’s)
½ sweet onion, sliced thin
1 drizzle olive oil (about ½ tablespoon)
1 drizzle balsamic vinegar
1 link Italian sausage, casing removed
6 dried figs
¼ cup each red and yellow sweet peppers
1 tablespoon dried oregano
½ cup sliced mozzarella from fresh log
¼ cup shaved asiago cheese
1 tablespoon garlic/herb infused olive oil
On floured board, roll out dough to form a 12” round.
Place round of dough on stone which has been sprinkled with cornmeal
Sauté onion in olive oil until golden and translucent. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and remove from heat.
Sauté chopped peppers, sliced dried figs (I cut them with kitchen scissors) and sausage until sausage is cooked through, about 5 minutes.
Paint pizza dough with garlic/herb infused olive oil. Add topping and caramelized onion. Sprinkle with oregano. Slice mozzarella and arrange on dough. Sprinkle with shaved asiago cheese.
Put stone and pizza on preheated grill, 450˚. Close lid and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until cheese is melted and dough is done to taste.
Sprinkle with sea salt and red pepper flakes to taste.
Makes one 12” pizza. Serves two.
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
½ cup warm water
1 cup cold water
4 cups high gluten flour
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Combine yeast in ¼ cup warm water. Let stand in warm place about 10 minutes until foamy.
Add remaining warm water to cold water and olive oil and combine with yeast mixture.
Make a well of two cups of the flour and work in the liquid, adding flour until dough is stiff and hard to work.
On a floured board, knead the dough with your hands, using your knuckles and your wrists, for about 10 minutes until dough is silken and elastic (great exercise and a good way to vent!).
Transfer ball of dough to oiled bowl and cover with a light towel.
Let rise in a warm place until dough is double in size. Punch down to release air pockets.
Knead the dough again until it regains elasticity. Cut into four to make four balls for four pizzas.
Or, if you have a bread machine, follow the directions for making pizza dough and let it do the work for you. And if you don’t have a bread machine, maybe your local Goodwill store has one!